Marcus Whalen had rushed for over 900 yards in 2002, and was back for his junior season. However, in warm-ups for the season opener against Georgia Tech Whalen broke his foot. That gave Brathwaite a small opening to show what he could do. A small opening was all this speedy 5-foot-10, 170 pound back needed.
Brathwaite finished the game against the Yellow Jackets as the team's leading rusher with 61 yards on 13 carries. That earned him the start the next week at USC--the nation's no. 4 ranked team. Brathwaite was, again, the team's leading rusher with a impressive 6.4 yards per carry average (51 yards on 8 carries) against one of the best defenses in the nation.
Although he had showed well in his first two outings, Brathwaite's real breakout came in game 3 at New Mexico. During the first quarter, Brathwaite made a play that would ensure he was a fixture in the Cougar offense even after Whalen had recovered. Jon Eyre from BYU Athletics Communications described the play like this:
"With the Cougars pinned deep in their own territory during the first quarter, Brathwaite took the ball and appeared to be stopped for a loss. He reversed his field, from left to right and raced down the sideline before finally being stopped at the two-yard line. The 89-yard run marked the longest run from scrimmage in BYU history in over 45 years." (http://byucougars.com/m-football/defense-leads-10-7-victory-over-new-mexico)
That play set up Matt Payne's 20-yard field goal to give BYU a 3-0 lead. While the run came in the first quarter, it very well could have been the difference in the game. BYU won 10-7. If BYU punted the ball back to New Mexico and gave the Lobos really good field position, maybe they take the early lead.
Brathwaite finished the day with 169 yards on 19 carries. He was the only BYU player to finish the game with positive rushing yards. He also completed a pass for 26 yards, which gave him a 318.4 pass efficiency rating.
Whalen returned to action against Stanford, but Brathwaite continued to lead the team in rushing against the Cardinal and the next week against the Air Force Falcons.
When BYU went on the road to San Diego State, BYU was 2-3 and desperately needed a win. Once again, Brathwaite provided the fireworks.
The Aztecs pinned BYU at its own 5-yard line on a second quarter punt. The game was tied 14-14, but BYU had been playing catch up the entire game. The defense had made a stop, but with such poor field position it wasn't likely that the Cougar offense could capitalize.
Playing conservative, BYU handed the ball off to Brathwaite for a run up the middle. A hole opened up, and Brathwaite picked up some yards to give BYU some breathing room. The Aztecs, however, were no where to be found, so he kept running and running all the way to the end zone. The 95-yard run was a school record.
That gave BYU its first lead of the game, and from that point on the Cougars never trailed. In the end BYU won 44-36, and Brathwaite had his second 100 yard game (144 yards, 19 carries).
BYU only won one game the rest of the season, but Brathwaite continued to lead the team in rushing every game he played. (He missed the Boise State and Utah games.)
His final game of the season was the Notre Dame game. While BYU lost, Brathwaite was strong in defeat. On 14 carries he gained 77 yards with one touchdown. To put that into perspective, former BYU record holder for career rushing yards Jamal Willis had 75 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown against the Irish in 1994.
Brathwaite left BYU almost as quickly as he came. Honor Code violations shortly after the 2003 season ended resulted in Brathwaite leaving the school and missing his senior season.
145 rushes, 812 yards (5.6 yards per carry), 2 TD
19 receptions, 100 yards (5.3 yards per catch)
1 completion, 1 attempt, 26 yards, 318.4 pass efficiency
3 kickoff returns, 58 yards (19.3 yards per return)
Top 10 One Hit Wonders
10. Ray Crandall (1971), John Kormylo (1978)
9. Shane Hunter (2010)
8. Reynaldo Brathwaite (2003)
7. Ezekiel Ansah (2012)
6. Ben Cahoon (1997)
5. Ryan Hancock (1992)
4. Ethan Pochman (1996)
3. Ted Nelson (1970)
2. David Mills (1984)
1. Jay Miller (1973)